TEACHING METHOD & PHILOSOPHY
Nathan knows that learning music can be intimidating. Because of this, he emphasizes patience, kindness, and encouragement: he wants the student to be as comfortable as possible. Nathan gently guides the student through various fundamentals which include scales, counting, finger exercises, melodic and harmonic patterns, and rhythmic structures. Then you move into working on a song or other piece of music (as lessons progress, you often begin with the song and work back toward the exercises). Nathan counts the beat or plays along with the student as needed.
Students of theory, songwriting and composition learn the names of notes, and then learn how these notes make scales and chords. There is also work on rhythm. With these elements, we move into exploring how musical pieces – songs, compositions – are made. Student original work is highly encouraged.
There is of course space for the spontaneous: students often will play something new, outside the lines of the lesson, and wonder what it is they made. Nathan shows them how to notate their creations so they may play them again. Also, students often have questions, and Nathan highly encourages the asking. They may be wondering about a song they heard or already enjoy, or something will rise from the work of the lesson. All music questions welcome.
Half-hour lessons are recommended. Thirty minutes of focused concentration can be a lot of time – especially for children (you often just need to be open to more spontaneity) – and much work can be done in that space. For those wanting a longer lesson, Nathan suggests considering learning two instruments at once, and/or complementing your instrument by going more in-depth with theory. What you learn on one instrument can be translated onto another. The lesson time would be split between the two areas of focus.
For drums and piano, Nathan use the adult and children’s versions of the Alfred Beginner Series. With guitar and bass (and often with drums), Nathan encourages students to bring material of their choice (as well as acquiring a tuner), however he can make recommendations depending on the student's needs and goals. Students of these instruments generally seem more motivated at the beginning by the thought of learning a song, or learning how to write a song, while the piano lends itself more naturally to learning notation. Nathan asks all students to use spiral notebooks. This helps track the lessons and brings clarity to what will be expected for the next lesson. For students, writing down their music goals is very helpful, too. With children, these books are great for communication, as well as aiding the parents in helping their children keep up with practicing. Nathan also recommends music manuscript paper (learning an instrument CAN make you a composer).
For theory, song-writing and composition, you use the aforementioned spiral notebooks as well as the manuscript paper. Nathan typically uses the piano and drums to teach these topics, but if the student wishes, you may enter this work through another instrument.
Lessons may take place in Nathan's home music parlor in Midtown, Sacramento or at your location. Lessons online via Skype are available.
With 5+ years teaching experience (and over 30 years music experience), Nathan is here to offer beginning level lessons in drums, piano, electric bass, guitar, theory, songwriting and composition. If there is a more advanced musician who just needs a refresher, or possibly some different ideas, Nathan is available to you as well. Learning music can be terrifying, and Nathan wants to be the one to help you get past that fear, to help you feel how joyful and fun it is to make music.
Nathan entered the world of music by listening and appreciating music (first memory – at age 2 or 3 – is being fascinated by the sounds of a Neil Diamond record). At age 11, he began to learn the drums. At 12, he joined the junior high Jazz ensemble and has been enjoying the drum set ever since.
After high school, Nathan dived into his study of music theory, songwriting and composition (and began studying piano, guitar and bass) and soon had an AA in Music from Sacramento City College. After a number of years wherein he composed and performed my own material, Nathan wanted to broaden his compositional palette. He transferred to the University of California, Davis, where he received a BA in Music. Diving ever deeper into composition at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, Nathan earned an MFA in Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts. His MFA Thesis included composing and recording an album of all-original material for solo piano.
Throughout his teens, Nathan performed drums and percussion in numerous music groups, including marching and concert bands, symphony orchestras, instrumental and vocal Jazz ensembles, show pop groups as well as drumming in a band with close friends. In his late teens and early twenties, Nathan branched out, learning other instruments, songwriting and composition. At 23 he had his first solo show featuring his own songs, and soon after had his first band. Since then he has maintained various ensembles as well as working as a sideman in numerous groups. From wild and chaotic Noise and Free Jazz shows to the sad solemnity of memorials to the joyful bliss of wedding celebrations, Nathan has enjoyed and continues to enjoy performing in diverse situations and venues. Equally close to his heart is the writing: he maintains a composition practice, which he nurtures daily.
Nathan enjoys soaking in the influences of various styles of music. Jazz, Classical, Rock & Roll, Rock Steady, Progressive Rock, Hip-Hop, Folk, Blues, Heavy Metal, R & B, Reggae, Pop, Funk, Latin, New Age, Punk, World Beat, Trance, Country, Adult Contemporary, and Soul: all these styles influence his playing and writing.